Here are some milestones, highlights and interesting events from across NAS Patuxent River that appeared in the pages of Tester throughout the year 2019:


NAVAIR Headquarters 2018 Senior Sailor of the Year was Petty Officer First Class Daniel Eldridge, an aviation technician serving as NAVAIR Technical Directive Kit Manager.

NAS Patuxent River Commanding Officer Capt. Jason Hammond signed an Intergovernmental Support Agreement with St. Mary’s County to reduce its operating and capital maintenance costs.

U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Joshua Wort, project officer and test pilot with Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21, was named the 2018 Admiral Merlin O’Neill Officer of the Year, recognizing the most outstanding junior officer at Pax River.

Naval Health Clinic Patuxent River rolled out their new QR code, allowing patients to easily activate their prescriptions via their smartphone.

Drill Hall Athletic Director Hal Willard retired at the end of December after 37 years at the facility.

The Pax River Chief Petty Officer Association collected nonperishable goods for Webster Field U.S. Coast Guardsmen affected by the government shutdown. Considered essential personnel – but falling under the Department of Homeland Security and not the Department of Defense – the Coast Guardsmen reported for duty without pay for the duration of the shutdown.


Carson Carroll, assistant program executive officer for Business and Financial Management, was presented the NAVAIR 2018 Business Financial Manager of the Year award.

The Navy awarded a $41.8 million contract to B.L. Harbert International Jan. 30 to build the MQ-25 Unmanned Air System Rsearch, Development, Test and Evaluation hangar at Pax River.

Naval Air Crewman (Mechanical) 1st Class Jacob Perry, leading petty officer for Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20’s E-6B Mercury test team, was awarded the NAVAIR 2018 Sailor of the Year award.

Informational video rolled out for NAVAIR, NAWCAD and COMFRC new hires explaining what they can expect during the two-day orientation program they attend upon their arrival at Pax River.

U. S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Frederic Neubert, government lead test pilot and department head at Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21 in charge of developmental testing of the CH-53K, was awarded the 2019 Marine Corps Aviation Association John Glenn Squadron Marine Aviation Acquisition Test Pilot of the Year award.

The U.S. Naval Test Pilot School received the 2018 Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Award at the Pentagon for graduating over 250 test pilots, naval flight officers, flight test engineers, industry civilians, and foreign partners over the course of 2018 – more than all primary test pilot schools combined.


Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson visited NAS Patuxent River and hosted a town hall meeting at Center Stage Theater to address military and civilian personnel, thanking them for their work and answering questions.

The Navy’s next-generation Sub-Sonic Aerial Target, BQM-177A, reached Initial Operational Capability Feb. 27.

Commander, Naval Air Forces Command and the U.S. Marine Corps Deputy Commandant for Aviation jointly announced Feb. 28 that the aircraft variant of the Joint Strike Fighter – the F-35C Lightning II – met all requirements and achieved Initial Operational Capability.

As the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron Blue Angels prepare to transition from the F/A-18 Hornet to the Super Hornet, the flight profile for the Super Hornet aerial demonstration was developed by former Blue Angels pilots at the NAWCAD Manned Flight Simulator at Pax River.

Gunnery Sgt. Nathan Marple was named the Marine Corps Aviation Association John Glenn Squadron Marine Corps’ Acquisition Staff Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year for his outstanding work as Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems (PMA-263) military deputy assistant program manager for logistics, overseeing SUAS.

Patrick Gordon, NAS public affairs officer, and Darcy Cunningham, MWR Ticket and Travel Office manager, were named the NAS Patuxent River 2018 Senior Civilian of the Year and Junior Civilian of the Year, respectively.

AIR 6.0 delivered a $12.6 billion Contracted Maintenance, Modification, Aircrew, and Related Service multiple award contract two months ahead of schedule. The contract, awarded to 20 industry partners, was the largest to date for AIR 6.0.

The Navy awarded The Boeing Co. a contract for the procurement of 78 F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet aircraft; a multi-year procurement of 72 between fiscal years 2019-2021, and six from fiscal year 2018.

Since its opening in August 2018, NAWCAD’s Innovation Hub – better known as iHub – held almost 250 workshops, technical interchanges, 3-D printing classes, and printing, brainstorming or training sessions with more than 90 projects printed to meet fleet needs.

On March 16, Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 1 conducted a long endurance flight with the new Aerial Refueling capability on the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye. Plugging on a KC-707 tanker, the aircraft stayed airborne for more than eight hours, marking the longest continuous flight ever recorded by an E-2 Hawkeye.


NAS Patuxent River Commanding Officer Jason Hammond turned over command of the installation to Capt. Christopher Cox in an April 11 ceremony held in Hangar 306.

Testing on an improved lighting assembly with the KC-135 that will enable the Navy and Marine Corps F-35 variants was completed. Led by the F-35 program at Pax River and supported by Edwards Air Force Base, California, the redesigned light enables refueling behind a tanker at night.

Capt. Thomas Tennant turned over command of Naval Test Wing Atlantic to U.S. Marine Corps Col. Richard Marigliano April 5.

Cmdr. Christopher Gavin turned over command of Air Test and Evaluation (HX) 21 to U. S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. John Ennis April 11.

The U.S. Navy awarded a multi-year procurement contract to Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation for the purchase of 24 E-2D Hawkeye aircraft in full rate production for fiscal years 2019-2023.

Capt. John Brabazon reported as the NAS Patuxent River Executive Offer April 11.


The ground was broken April 16 at the site of the hangar for MQ-25, the Navy’s first operational carrier-based unmanned air system and will provide aerial refueling capability to the Carrier Air Wing.

Sailors and Marines from across the installation supported the annual Special Olympics of St. Mary’s County Spring Games at Leonardtown High School April 29.

Pax River and Atlantic Test Ranges partnered with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Rural Legacy Program to protect lands through the DoD Readiness and Environmental Protection Program, resulting in 10,000 acres of land being preserved throughout the state – with more than 6,000 acres preserved through easements beneath the military airspace in the Rural Legacy Areas.

Mystery downed aircraft sighted on Wroten Island by a news crew from the Eastern Shore identified as a TV-2 Shooting Star that crashed Nov. 27, 1953, after the aircraft‘s engine cut out seven minutes after takeoff from Pax River. The pilot was recovered uninjured.

Patrolman 1st Class Emelie Thomas of the Pax River Police Department, a nine-year veteran, was named Pax River’s Police Officer of the Year May 14.

Outdoor pool at Pax River reopened May 25 after being closed the previous summer for major repairs and improvements.

NAVAIR awarded a $1.3 billion Low Rate Initial Production Lots 2 and 3 contract for 12 aircraft to Sikorsky, Stratford, Conn., for the U.S. Marine Corps CH-53K Stallion May 17.


Pax River named Tree City USA for 30th consecutive year by the National Arbor Day Foundation.

Leo Wynee, supervisory engineering technician with Naval Facilities Engineering Command at Pax River, named NAVFAC Washington Supervisor of the Year.

U.S. Naval Test Pilot School instructor Barb Gordon was the Navy’s first to receive the Army’s Broken Wing Award June 6 after Gordon successfully recovered a UH-60L she was in with a test pilot under instruction. The award is presented to aircrew who minimize or prevent loss of life and aircraft throughout outstanding airmanship during in-flight emergencies.

After serving 20 years in test and evaluation in the MV-22 Osprey program, Aircraft No. 8 – affectionately known as Eight Ball – was retired to the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum.

The Navy’s Presidential Helicopter Program awarded a $542 million contract to Sikorsky June 10 to build six VH-92A aircraft, spares and support equipment.

Navy Supply Fleet Logistics Center Norfolk det Patuxent River, was awarded the Commander, Naval Air Force’s Blue E Supply Excellence Award for exceptional supply and management support.

Matthew Empfield, engineer and a member of the HX-21 Presidential Helicopter Test Team, was presented the 40th John E. Burdette Memorial Award for superior performance May 20 from the Society of Engineers and Scientists.

Pax River’s Navy Gateway Inns and Suites earned the Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt Award for excellence in lodging management following an evaluation by the CNIC Lodging Accreditation Program June 10-12.

Members of the F-35 Joint Program Office Auto Ground Collision Avoidance System team received the 2018 Robert J. Collier Trophy, June 13, for its rapid design, integration, and flight test of critical, lifesaving technology for the global F-35 fleet.


The Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program Office (PMA-263) delivered the final RQ-21A Blackjack system to the Marines at Marine Corps Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, June 12. This closed out the order of 21 Blackjack UAS.

CH-53K Heavy Lift Helicopter achieved more than 1 million flight hours since entering service with the Marine Corps in 1981.

The Navy declared initial operational capability of the MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter June 28, clearing the way for fleet operations and training.


Joint testing clears F-35B/C for night refueling.

Cedar Point Golf Club hosts the 58th Annual Women’s Military Dependents Golf Tournament July 24 and 25.

NAVAIR’s Hawkeye Analysis Working Cohort team, one of 17 teams competing from across the Navy, took first place in the Navy’s Sustainment Data Challenge.

Electrical engineer Dr. Brandon Cochenour and robotics engineer Dr. James Hing, both with NAWCAD, each received the Presidential Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the U.S. government’s highest scientific honor.

The Navy’s newest aircraft carrier Advanced Arresting Gear system received the green light to recover “props and jets” aircraft.


New chef Will Hammet starts cooking at River’s Edge Catering and Conference Center.

Pax River Gate 1 CAC Office received the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Personnel and Readiness Site Excellence Award.

NAVAIR’s Human Capital Management Department received three Department of the Navy 2018 Human Resources and Equal Employment Opportunity Community Awards for Excellence.

The Navy and Boeing successfully completed the first test flight of the MQ-25, the first operational carrier-based unmanned refueling aircraft Sept 19.


Commander, Naval Air Forces announced Sept 24 that naval aviation had achieved its Secretary of Defense-mandated readiness target for an 80% mission-capable rate for both its operational F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler fleets.

NAVAIR’s Aircrew Systems program office delivered, installed and demonstrated the first two redesigned MH-60S Seahawk gunner seats Sept. 24 and 25.

The Navy successfully launched its first GQM-163A Coyote Supersonic Sea Skimming Target from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, Sept. 24.

A tree planting ceremony was held in memory of Rose Emory, a civilian killed when her pickup truck was struck by an F-18 during a mishap near the Pax River airfield Oct. 1, 1992.

Both NAWCAD Pax River and NAWCAD Webster Field provided valuable assistance in rescue efforts following Hurricane Dorian’s hit on the Bahamas in early September.

Shawn Thompson, an advanced development engineer with NAVAIR, received the Department of the Navy 2019 Secretary of Defense Award for Outstanding Department of Defense Service Members and Civilian Employees with Disabilities award for his work on a new E-2D air domain awareness tool.

Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21 kicked off Naval Test Wing Atlantic’s new monthly Squadron Familiarization courses Oct. 8 when 20 NAWCAD/NAVAIR personnel met for an overview of the squadron’s mission.

Vice Adm. Dean Peters recognized NAVAIR’s Navy Cloud Broker Team Oct. 10 for their role in the largest cloud migration in U.S. Navy history. The team helped move the Navy Enterprise Resource Planning system into the cloud, a critical step in modernizing the Navy’s financial management capabilities and advancing the service’s digital transformation.


The Navy demonstrated its new Shipboard Air Traffic Radar, AN/SPN-50, for the first time Oct. 23 at Webster Field.

NAVAIR recognized 23 business financial managers Oct. 24 for delivering program and mission outcomes faster during the 9th Annual Awards for Excellence in Financial Management Service.

NAVAIR ‘s Capt. Tony Rossi , program manager with PMA-290, and Hollly Alemar , procurement officer for PMA-281, received top acquisition awards at a Pentagon ceremony Nov. 4.

The Navy’s newest recovery system, Advanced Arresting Gear, successfully completed the sytem’s most demanding test event to date with 22 aircraft arrestments in just over 26 minutes at the Runway Arrested Landing Site in Lakehurst, New Jersey.


Chief Damage Controlman Johnathan Zavatsky qualified as a Navy Certified Emergency Manager , the first service member to receive emergency management certification.

Using state-of-the-art computational modeling methodologies, risk management, flight test data and Systems Engineering tools, industry and government engineers validated a modification that mitigated an ongoing engine integration issue for the CH-53K King Stallion.

The F-35 Joint Program Office Executive Director, Tanya Skeen, held her first town hall meeting with the JPO’s Pax River workforce Dec. 9.

Wayne Walker, with the Pax River Safety Office, retired Dec. 31 after 50 years of combined military and civilian service to the U. S. Navy.